The MIS-C Clinic supports initial and follow-up care for children and teens diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a condition in which children have significant levels of inflammation following exposure to the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19.
While an immune response in the body always occurs to fight infection, children with MIS-C have unusual responses to the coronavirus compared to the average person. In turn, this causes inflammation and symptoms such as abdominal pain; vomiting; diarrhea; fever; fatigue; rash; bloodshot eyes; and red, cracked lips. The condition can occur weeks after a child was sick with coronavirus and tested positive, as well as when no COVID-19 symptoms were present.
Many families have had no known exposure to COVID-19 and no illness in the household. Your child may have been exposed through contact with someone who was shedding the virus but had no symptoms. MIS-C is similar in some ways to other conditions in which the body’s immune response triggers inflammation, such as Kawasaki disease and rheumatologic diseases. Unlike COVID-19, MIS-C is not contagious.
How MIS-C Is Diagnosed
Your child’s doctor will take into account findings during the exam, reports of symptoms, and results of additional tests. It is important to note that other illnesses can create the same symptoms and test results. Your child’s doctor may recommend additional testing, specialty appointments or hospitalization to confirm or rule out MIS-C, and to ensure proper treatment.
How MIS-C is Treated
Treatment for MIS-C typically includes medications also used to treat similar conditions, such as intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), steroids, anakinra and infliximab. These help lower inflammation in order to avoid long-term damage to your child’s blood vessels and other organs. If your child received steroids while in the Hospital, you will be instructed on how to slowly reduce the dose over weeks so that there are no side effects from stopping the medication. Patients should be weaned off steroids over time, and steroids should not be abruptly stopped. Be sure and ask your MIS-C Clinic doctor if you have questions about how to slowly reduce the steroid dose for your child.
Care Your Child Will Need at Home
Your child’s care team will work with you to make sure you have follow-up appointments with our MIS-C Clinic team. Your child may need to take medications, such as steroids and aspirin, for several weeks, and will need blood and heart testing in the first few weeks to months after initial treatment. Your child should avoid strenuous exercise until your MIS-C Clinic doctor indicates these activities can be resumed. If you have any questions or concerns; or if your child experiences trouble breathing, bleeding, body pain or headaches; please contact your child’s pediatrician. A member of the MIS-C Clinic team is available 24/7 for doctor consultations through the page operator.
Since the recent discovery of MIS-C, Dr. Burns and Dr. Tremoulet have served as global experts on the condition, participating in more than 70 media interviews to date and writing national guidelines for MIS-C. Dr. Dummer is a pediatric heart specialist with a special interest in problems of the heart and blood vessels after KD and MIS-C. Joan Pancheri, R.N., our nurse specialist for KD and MIS-C, runs the clinic and is available to support our families. Meet our team.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can My Child Get MIS-C More than Once?
At this time, we think that children can only get MIS-C once. However, the condition is new and we are still learning more through research being done at Rady Children’s Hospital and UC San Diego, and across the world. As new information becomes available, you will be updated at your next clinic visit.
How Can I Prevent Other Children from Getting MIS-C?
We do not currently know if MIS-C itself can be prevented. The best way to help protect your other family members from MIS-C is to follow community and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for COVID-19 prevention. These include frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding close contact with people who live outside the home and with those who have COVID-19 symptoms, regularly disinfecting household surfaces, and having children 2 and older wear a face covering in public. For more information, talk with your child’s doctor, or visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/children/protect-children.html.